Editor’s note: Energy Citizens, an industry group opposed to climate change legislation, is holding rallies this month across the country. Our media columnist, Ken Edelstein, channels the thoughts of a fictitious spokesman.

I’m here to remind you what America’s all about, buddy. Remember when the colonists got agitated at King George for raising gasoline taxes? Remember when those patriots marched onto the tankers and rolled barrels of petroleum into Boston harbor?

What a glorious moment that was in the founding of our great republic.

I didn’t think you remembered it the way I did. That’s because you’ve been brainwashed by the liberal media. They don’t want you to know that King George was a tax-and-spend environmentalist. Or that our founding fathers were fighting for their unalienable right to drive a Hummer. And now they don’t want you to know that the climate change cap-and-trade legislation working its way through Congress will cost millions of jobs and make Americans poorer than Bangladeshis.

Well, Energy Citizens is a new grassroots group formed to drill, baby, drill the truth into you -- if by “grassroots” you mean Astroturfing, and if by “truth” you mean industry-funded propaganda.

Like the Tea Parties that coalesced against the stimulus plan, and the mobs, er, I mean ordinary citizens who exercised their right to shout down congressmen over health reform, we here at Energy Citizens sprouted spontaneously from the board rooms of patriotic special-interest groups.

Our grassroots were planted by selfless non-profits like the American Petroleum Institute (API) -- best known for its star-spangled push to preserve the money-making ways of mom-and-pops like ExxonMobil.

We’d meant to keep our plans quiet, of course. No need to worry you about how we’re going about our efforts to offer some perspective -- or how we’re busing people to rallies where we can ram that perspective down the throats of undecided senators. It was going to be just our little secret.

So I can’t tell you how disappointed we were when Greenpeace got a hold of a memo from Petroleum Institute’s executive director to its member companies. The memo plainly said: “Please treat this information as sensitive and ask those in your company to do so as well ... we don’t want critics to know our game plan.”

But they went and spilled the beans, anyway. You just can’t trust some people. Letting everyone in on the fact that API was helping to organize the rallies made it look as if oil companies that had come out publicly in support of climate change cap-and-trade legislation, like BP and Shell, were secretly working against it. How cynical!

Look, we just want to get the facts out there, and we want to give people an opportunity to participate in the Democratic process. As an API spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal: "We're not about yelling at your congressman." Nothing like this:

Political debate in America has never been more sophisticated. We’ve developed a wonderful system to hold civil discussions -- whether we’re talking about climate change or health insurance or the president’s birthplace -- and then for ensuring that our leaders get the message.
It starts with thoughtful people paid by the people who know the most about a subject. In the case of healthcare, that’s insurance companies. And in the case of climate change, it’s oil companies.

Then, we make sure the public gets the best quality of information through the hard work of sober journalists.

After listening to professional information gatherers like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, that well-informed segment of our citizenry is ready for action. We here in the nonprofit, special-interest arena pitch in by organizing opportunities for them to discuss their concerns rationally with their political leaders (though, for a small extra fee we’re happy to provide pitchforks and torches).
Now, I know that some naysayers gripe that getting angry folks emotionally involved in important issues could be dangerous. These elitists worry that the “wrong crowd” is bringing guns to meetings. But I ask you this: Since when has a little robust debate in America led to anything more than heated discussion?

People are hopping mad about the state of this country. Can you blame them? After being elected, President Obama acted as if he won the election. And after a whole seven months in office, he has yet to solve all the nation’s problems.

As we move from the wonderful civics lesson that was the August town-hall experience and toward a fall when climate change may again share the media spotlight, we at Energy Citizens can only pray that we’ll be able tease the level of discourse up to the same intellectual level. And that our founding fathers, who sacrificed their petroleum so that we could drive freely on America’s highways, can again be proud of us.

Journalist Ken Edelstein writes the Media Mayhem column for the Mother Nature Network. He blogs about media, pop culture and the environment at cultofgreen.com.
Media Mayhem: A tongue-in-cheek civics lesson
Let's apply the great American traditions of propaganda and intimidation to the climate change debate.